Monday, July 21, 2014

Winter observations

I remember now why I moved to the desert.
Peoples here are more diverse, but less accepting. Being who I am and what I am is cause for either derision or awe. I have noticed that there is not much of a middle ground between the two. Even among other elves it is the same. Being one of the Immortals brings wide-eyed wonder and reverence bordering on an uncomfortable level of almost-worship; or suspicious glances and whispered conversations. Most of these I tolerate to some degree, having learned long ago that it’s simply a thing to deal with or ignore.
However, it is something that sharply underscores my lack of familiarity with anything here.
Even the weather is unpredictable and cold.
In an effort to familiarize more with these surroundings, and to learn (or remember) how to properly prepare for travel in winter, the party traveled to the ranger encampment that was about four days out from the main city. They readily agreed to trade skill training for geographical and climate knowledge, and we spent a month’s time with them working and learning along side the rangers.
Shalev worked with a number of them to improve their skills with spears, and would often take Amit out to hunt with them. During one of these hunts, they were attacked by a very large, very old boar who had apparently been troubling the rangers for some time. It was successfully taken down by Amit, and was found to be riddled not only with disease and parasites, but with still living bits and pieces of the tainted orcs.
It’s good that they killed it when they did, the poor beast was probably in agony.
The orc hands were quickly burned and the carcass cleaned and purified at Shalev’s direction. These orcs are becoming quite troublesome, but if we can spread the knowledge on how to permanently destroy them, perhaps we can quell the invasion for a time.
Ishmael made the rangers a store of arrowheads with his smithing abilities, and Lan aided in catching a plethora of fish from the lake nearby – much to her delight, I might add. She truly is a creature of the waters, and seems happiest in that, her natural, form.
I taught them the basic and natural way to orient yourself to the proper direction, no matter where you are. Two of the students picked it up quickly, and show promise of being able to pass the knowledge on to others who might be interested. As for the third student, I very nearly gave up as a lost cause. He just didn’t seem to understand the simplest reasoning. The other two assured me that the teachings were not in vain, and that they could eventually get him to come around. I will trust that they will look after their brother.
As much as I admit to missing the sands of the desert, it is good to see trees again. Being among growing things has given me a chance to explore the nature of the Sacred Druidic tradition in depth. Life in Balance sounds like a simple concept, but is truly something I could easily spend a century contemplating on.
When I wasn’t teaching, or helping them in other ways, the rangers gave me free rein of the forest, and I would often find myself wandering among the trees with a wistfulness that only made the melancholy more pronounced. It is a well protected area already, which is good. Although they are more secular in nature, they still understand the necessity of proper balance. Life and death happen interchangeably within the forest, and they – perhaps unknowingly – work toward protecting that balance.
While we were there among the rangers, Shalev was actively asking questions to his compass, Lea-hona, not just to ascertain the direct nature of it’s ability, but to aid him in his searches for information. In the course of his discussions with me, and the answers that he received from LeaHona, it was brought to light that his brother somehow had a hand in the death of his father.
His reactions have been quite understandable, and he’s become quite focused on gathering more information, as well as resources in order to confront his brother in search of justice. Desert politics, especially those of the noble families, are tricky at best. I recommend caution and gathering irrefutable hard evidence before leveling the accusation formally, though I worry that he is focused on revenge to the point of not caring. He says that his goddess has not talked to him, and I wonder if she too isn’t giving him the space he needs to sort through his feelings about the matter.
He is holding himself on a very tight leash, and has often found himself by my fireside once again, seeking counsel and wisdom much like when he first became my student. I hope I can help calm his ire (justified as it may be) to a point where he can take a look at each facet of this dilemma appropriately. I will offer my help, counsel, and cautions in whatever capacity is required, but ultimately this is something that he must work through and resolve on his own. I think, to some degree, he already realizes this. My hopes for my student are high though, and I have no doubt that he will come through stronger and wiser.
Our month with the rangers ended right as the equinox occurred, and I was able to add a sacred blessing to the area as an additional protection. I don’t know if they recognized what I did, and reacted with some surprise when I inquired about knowledge of any other sacred druids. Their reactions confirmed my suspicion that I am currently the only one, but I will continue to search and study in hopes that I can discover more.
Our party spoke at length about which path to take next, and we decided to continue on towards the library. We took the north-western road out of Quantz, toward the mountain ranges, following the directions that the vintner gave to me earlier.
After about two weeks of traveling, we came to a little mining town called Grolsh. Ishmael spoke with the miners and smiths there, and we agreed to winter here with them while he shares his skill and knowledge of metal working. He seems quite keen on the secrets of how to make a fire hotter, and can often be seen tinkering with different powders and combinations to try to achieve this end.
While he was teaching one evening, a small dwarven man approached him and began to talk to him in a strange guttural language. Thereafter, they could both be seen speaking in the local tavern each evening. I don’t know what they spoke of, but I noted his extreme interest in the conversations, so I would hazard to guess that the old dwarf was sharing the knowledge Ishmael sought.
I am admittedly uncomfortable here in this city of stone and earth. I don’t like it here. I feel closed in and confined. I spend my days here observing the people as a whole and their customs, refining my grasp of the common tongue, observing the weather patterns and effects of the winter, and sitting quietly in meditation.
One day at a time.

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